Urban Meyer is stepping into history. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jim Tressel was in quite an enviable situation at Ohio State. Ohio State fans adored their sweater vest clad head coach, and what wasn't to love? Tressel had led the Buckeyes to the precipice of the promised land and ultimately delivered. While every coach has their fair share of critics, Tressel continued to back up his philosophy.
What quickly came to be known as "Tresselball" wasn't always the most easily digestible, particularly after high profile losses. Despite the detractors, the Senator would ensure Ohio State rolled through the majority of the opposition, only falling below 10 wins in two of Tressel's 10 seasons.
After a solid year in 2009 ended in style in Pasadena taking down the University of Oregon in Ohio State's first Rose Bowl in over a decade, expectations grew for the 2010 squad. Following defeating the University of Miami and starting the season 5-0, a Wisconsin loss would effectively doom the Buckeyes' chances of reaching that year's title game. Alas, a Sugar Bowl season-ending victory over Arkansas would soon more than ease the pain of perfection's escape. Amid all of the celebrations of shaking the snide of the winless post-season streak against the SEC, Ohio State would soon be rocked by NCAA sanctions that culminated in the loss of a legendary coach (and his adjoined reputation), cost the 2011 Buckeyes four starters for 5-10 games, and led to the departure of their would be starter and once heralded five star quarterback.
Fast forward to November 28th, 2011 when Urban Meyer was introduced as the head football coach at Ohio State. Following Jim Tressel's dominance of the Big Ten for the better part of 10 years, Buckeye fans knew that Meyer was one of the few coaches that could match (or potentially even exceed) the almost unwieldy expectations established by Tressel himself.
Now entering Urban's first season as the Buckeyes' head coach, what can Ohio State fans expect out of Meyer? With Tressel's departure now over a year removed, there's no doubt that Ohio State football will soon be adopting a new identity. Given Meyer's own personal history and pedigree, what should the Buckeye faithful expect relative to his predecessor?
|BCS Conference Statistics||Jim Tressel||Urban Meyer|
|Overall Record||106-22 (83%)||65-15 (82%)|
|Conference Record||66-14 (83%)||36-12 (75%)|
|Bowl Record||6-4 (5-3 BCS)||7-1 (4-0 BCS)|
|vs. Rivals||21-6 (78%)*||17-2 (89%)*|
|Players Drafted (1st Round)||14||8|
* Tressel against Michigan, Penn State, and Illinois. Meyer versus Florida State, Georgia, and Tennessee.
Breaking down the two coaches' previous BCS-level track records, you can see a similar overall winning percentage and comparable in-conference success. While Tressel may had the higher overall winning percentage in conference play, Meyer accomplishing what he did during the golden age of the Southeastern Conference deserves much credit in and of itself. Both had their fair share of good fortune against their rivals as well, including Tressel's absurd 9-1 record against Michigan.
While Tressel earns an edge over Urban in the conference championship category, the SEC crowned their champions on the field and was far less generous in regards to dishing out easy co-championships for finishing with the same conference mark in the way the Big Ten did before last season.
Perhaps the stat that should give Ohio State fans the most room for optimism though would be Urban's record in bowl games. To point, Meyer's never lost a BCS game and gone an astounding 7-1 overall in the post-season while the head coach of the Florida Gators. Jim Tressel's own personal mark is nothing to scoff at, but Meyer's accomplishments in such a short period of time are virtually unrivaled in all of college football.
Both coaches can hold their heads high when it comes to their players being drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft. Tressel had an astounding 14 picks, while Meyer still accounts for a more than respectable eight first rounders. While the talent both coaches brought in to their respective schools year in year out was amongst the best in the country annually, actually making sure that talent developed according to plan tool deserves its fair share of high praise.
No matter what metrics we take into consideration, there's still no such thing as a sure bet in college football. While Meyer's previous accomplishments may lend themselves to giving us clues as to how his tenure as Ohio State's head coach may play its way out, there's no numbers or otherwise that can tell us without fail. That doesn't mean Ohio State fans should necessary be cynical, particularly when there's rhyme and reason to think the past decade might be a nice lead in as to what's yet to come:
In his first season [Meyer's] teams have improved by at least two games at each of his previous three stops. Even more impressive, Meyer's teams have never won fewer than eight games in his first season -- or any season he has coached for that matter. Meyer has engineered an offensive turnaround everywhere he's been, however it usually takes a year for his system to thrive.
In his first year at a new school Meyer's teams have ranked right around 60th in total offense. However in the second year at the school, Meyer's teams have averaged out to be about 10th among FBS teams in total offense.
In fact it is likely 2013 and not 2012 in which the Buckeyes will be back in BCS prominence. Urban Meyer went undefeated in his second season at Utah and won his first National Championship in his second season at Florida.
While the George Santayana idiom (that's become a cliché in spite of it being interpreted by the masses outside it's original context ) "those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it" might not be perfectly analogous in this particular case study, there's few reasons not to think that the Big Ten as a whole may be feeling like Bill Murray in "Groundhog's Day" should Urban Meyer's own personal coaching history play itself out similarly as it has in the past.